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August 12, 2008


Saturday last, the Editorial Staff espied a plaintive cri de coeur from one of those benighted conservathugs living in la-la land. It was entitled, somewhat ironically, Why Are We Whispering?

At a recent writers conference in Southern California, one of my colleagues on a screenwriters panel told the crowd of about 50 people that she hoped Barack Obama would win the presidency. A number of people applauded. When it was my turn to speak, I politely said that I disagreed with her politics and moved on to other topics. There was no applause for me, but several writers approached me afterward. Each dropped his voice to a whisper and, looking around to make sure no one would overhear, said, "Thank you for saying that."

Which raises a question for all conservatives in the arts: Why are we whispering?

It's true throughout Hollywood certainly. In filmland business meetings, the executives, producers and talent feel free to wax on about how stupid President Bush is, how evil American foreign policy is, even what awful human beings conservatives are. Hollywood rightists, meanwhile, are reduced to holding secret gatherings to confess their beliefs in sympathetic company.

Such intolerance! Whatever happened to respect for diversity, for the sanctity of opposing viewpoints, for... dare we say it... the idea that dissent, in and of itself, is not only a virtue but our patriotic duty? If we didn't know better, we'd suspect our liberal brethren in Christ are only paying lip service to the oft-expressed mantra personally handed down to future generations by the Father of our Country.

As for the question, "Why are we whispering?", that's a slam dunk. One suspects Hollywood conservatives whisper so the Obama advisors crazy folk won't hear them.

Posted by Cassandra at August 12, 2008 08:46 AM

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When he was first assigned Hamdan's case Swift was a relatively inexperienced, young military lawyer.

Swift was born in 1961, did a stint as a surface warfare officer and then took a break in service to attend Seattle University Law School from 1991 through 1994, when he became a JAG. Paul Harris' description of him as an "inexperienced, young" military lawyer seems a bit of a stretch...

Posted by: BillT at August 12, 2008 11:20 AM

I took early retirement so I could stop whispering. The EEOC my employer put in charge of political correctness stifled all speech not because that speech was not PC but because it could be PERCEIVED by someone not even involved in the conversation taking offense.

Stop whispering and speak out.

Posted by: vet66 at August 12, 2008 11:22 AM

A kid in my high school was fond of the phrase "Death to what you say, and I disagree with your right to say it." He was kidding (I think)....today's "progressives" are not.

Free speech is under assault as never before in American history (with the possible exception of the Palmer raid era during the Wilson administration), with threats from (a)thuggish violence by radical Muslims (other groups will soon imitate them in this), (b)the speech-controllers in the universities, (c)the threat of professional ostracism in fields dominated by "progressives."

Posted by: david foster at August 12, 2008 12:01 PM

Klavan's story--"Each dropped his voice to a whisper and, looking around to make sure no one would overhear, said, "Thank you for saying that"--is uncannily reminiscent of a story told by Tom Watson Jr, long-time head of IBM, about an experience he had during the McCarthy era.

Watson had vertical blinds in his office; these were not common in the early 1950s, and an engineer who was in the office for a meeting made a sketch of the blinds and inadvertently left it in his shirt pocket when he took the shirt to the dry cleaner. The laundry man thought the paper looked suspicious, and sent it to McCarthy. Pretty soon, a group of investigators came and said to the engineer, “We’ve identified this as a plan for a radar antenna, and want to hear about it. We want to be perfectly fair. But we know it is a radar antenna and the shirt it was found in belongs to you.”

The engineer explained about the vertical blinds, and the investigation team then asked to see Watson. The chief executive officer of IBM showed them the blinds and demonstrated the way they worked.

"They looked them over very carefully and then left. I thought I had contained it, but I wasn’t sure, and I was scared. We were working on SAGE (the computerized air defense system–ed) and it would have been a hell of a way to lose our security clearance."

At a meeting of leading businessmen a few days later, Watson told about the incident and about his concern that suspicion and paranoia were getting out of control. No one said anything. But a couple of days later, Watson received several letters along the lines of "I agree with what you said, but didn't feel that I could say anything in public."

Posted by: david foster at August 12, 2008 12:14 PM

Actually when I read Klavan's article, I was vividly reminded of my daughter in law's telling me that she and a few fellow conservatives (and you'd have to know her to know she is hardly a shrinking violet) felt they would be wise not to tell anyone they were Republicans because their co-workers openly let it be known it would be frowned upon.

The 'culture of fear' :p

Otherwise known as the education community. Apparently it's a very chill wind that blows on anyone who fails to display sufficent socialist ardor. I was flabbergasted.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 12, 2008 12:39 PM

I don't let certain people know about my blogging because I don't want to possible cause myself grief for not holding PC views. My best friend suggested I include those "book reviews" on my resume, but I reminded her that I write those from a certain political perspective, and I can't risk prejudicing a potential employer, especially since I haven't gotten that first teaching job yet (you wouldn't think it would be that hard, but I don't speak Spanish...).

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 12, 2008 01:22 PM

Apparently it's a very chill wind that blows on anyone who fails to display sufficient socialist ardor.

Just the pendulum swinging.

In November of '92, the only admitted Clinton supporter in our Flight Facility spared no pains to remind the rest of us that "his boy" won the election. By '95, he never mentioned politics at work. By '98, he was a registered Republican.

He still is...

Posted by: BillT at August 12, 2008 01:43 PM

Interesting...my parents were teachers, but when Johnson created the Education Department and the attendant evil of the National Education Association, my parents saw it for what it was and refused to support it. Since they were in Arizona at the time, it was not a major deal to speak openly about detesting Johnson and the War On Poverty and other social ill.

Once we moved to Los Angeles...completely different story.

My mother had hoped to teach, but shelved her resume and her teaching credentials because she refused to work in an atomsphere where free speech was frowned upon.

My father and mother knew it was a matter of time before the social engineers would start tinkering with teaching.

Posted by: Cricket at August 12, 2008 02:03 PM

"My father and mother knew it was a matter of time before the social engineers would start tinkering with teaching."
And the beatings continue... but the morale and self-esteem is improving, if not the competency.

That according to a study funded by the NEA, Public Broadcasting along with the generous contributions from the John D. & Catherine T. McArthur Foundation, the George Soros Socialists are Made not Born Initiative, and from generous taxpayers like you.

Posted by: Bill Moyers at August 12, 2008 02:27 PM

No whispering here.

Posted by: camojack at August 13, 2008 03:54 AM

It could be worse.

I could go to jail for some of the stuff I've said and thought here.

Just to speak in an open forum about non-Muslim rights in Malaysia is frowned on by the Prime Minister on down. Police crackdown, too.

And the sponsors of said forum? The bloody Bar Council.

Posted by: Gregory at August 13, 2008 05:12 AM